Why Haven’t I Done More to Oppose War in Iraq?
I ran up the stairs from the
But as I approached the entrance to Madison Square Garden, I realized that this time was different.ŬSo many people were waiting to cross the street that I couldn’t even get to the corner. In fact, I could barely walk anywhere without butting shoulders with someone. Policemen were redirecting traffic away from the station. Helicopters were hovering above the scene. There were frantic expressions, confused indecision and anxious questioning. The only words I could clearly hear were: terror alert.
From my office window, I see Ground Zero every day. Working in an industry so closely linked with the media, I listen to the constant false alarms and rumored red alerts. During it all, I have a clear view of the skyline and the Manhattan shore. My co-workers and I often casually note a perceived increase in the numbers of helicopters or ships or note unusual planes in the sky. Though it is never stated, however, we know we are not making small talk.
But it was not until that chaotic day at Penn Station and when I arrived relieved to be safe in Baltimore that I finally realized that Bush’s war has put my life—and particularly those of all New Yorkers—in danger. As Bush leads us down what appears to be an irreversible path toward war with Iraq, my level of nervousness grows. The brashness of our administration could be just enough to push anyone over to hate our country.
While many Americans believe this war lacks the moral backing of our attack on the Taliban, how much worse this war will appear to those who are already considering joining groups like Al Qaeda or Abu Sayyaf or initiating their own personal mission. With each assertion of resolution to attack, whether the US has allies or not, whether the war will save lives or not, the administration increases the likelihood of yet another terrorist attack.
While I privately curse at the televised press conferences and UN proceedings, I am most of all mad at myself for not having done anything: for passively watching the approach of a heinous war yet not participating in a single demonstration or writing a single letter. I have no immediate power to change the course of our foreign policy but as a matter of principle, for the sake of the people I love, for the city I love, for the country I love, I’m disturbed that I felt so powerless and removed to have done nothing.
Now there seems to be no exit. The US will not halt the mobilization and risk losing face unless Saddam is out and weapons of mass destruction are revealed and destroyed. The Bush team has so successfully tied together international law and UN authority with military aggression that a sudden pull-back would de-legitimize both.
All I can hope is this time the US does not make the same mistakes as it did in Iraq in 1991 and in Panama in 1989—of abandoning a devastated nation and leaving tyrannical powers in place. Our security depends on the well-being of the Iraqi people; else our critics and enemies can easily use this additional example of American hypocrisy to garner support against us.
Still, I will not curb my use of subways or decrease the frequency of my visits to Times Square or Wall Street. I have no intentions of leaving New York City for fear of a terrorist attack. ŬI’ll participate in the protests and try to make up for lost time.
Bush says he doesn’t care what hundreds of thousands of citizens say? Well, he can kiss his next term goodbye.
The author, a graduate of a Baltimore private school and an Ivy League university, works in communications in Manhattan.
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This story was published on March 5, 2003.